Bright, sunny days and lukewarm water off of white-sand beaches are characteristic of islands in the Caribbean, but some trips may have to be planned out weeks or months in advance for your tropical getaway. Grab your passport—or don’t—it isn’t necessary when you go to Puerto Rico if you are an American citizen, which makes it an excellent destination for a spontaneous trip.
If luxury travel is your style, book a stay at Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, a new and swanky property out by Farjado. If you are more budget conscious then do some research on the hotels in Old San Juan—every first time visitor should stay in this area. Hotel Casablanca is an affordable option with great character.
So much food
Take a stroll on the Calle Fortaleza for souvenirs and some unbelievable dining experiences. Dominoes is a popular game in Puerto Rico, and you can easily find a set, along with jewelry, instruments and cigars in the shops on and around Fortaleza. Gourmet meals in a decadent lounge draw large crowds at Marmalade—it is worth a stop if you’d like a romantic evening sans the teens. Try it out as a family if your teenagers appreciate high-quality, original cuisine. The Parrot Club is the place to go for different dishes such as plantain nachos, and it offers many affordable choices. For more authentic fare, the locals will most likely send you a few blocks away from Calle Forteleza to Raices—which translates to Roots—the décor, the servers and the food all heavily reflect Puerto Rican roots. Try the ceviche; you won’t be disappointed. The entire area is teeming with restaurants, so you really can’t go wrong. Scour the area during the day and make reservations to prevent long waits and grouchy teens at dinnertime.
Keeping the teens curious
Teenagers and adults alike will appreciate a day of wandering the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan. Stop into one of the many small shops and gaze at the work of local artists or discover the beautiful fountains that grace each plaza—you can find one every couple of blocks. Whether you or the teens are interested in history or not, make a stop of the two forts in Old San Juan: El Morro and Castillo San Cristóbal. These forts were built by the Spanish who governed Puerto Rico in the 16th century and remained strategic posts for the United States—who later made Puerto Rico a territory—up through World War II. Learn about the island’s rich history or simply soak in the amazing view. Be sure to snap some silly photos of your party near the iguanas which roam the grounds.
At the forts on any given day, many families can be seen flying their kites, dotting the sky with a rainbow of colors. Teens might be too cool to give it a try, but if they are into photography, it offers a stunning backdrop for a few amazing shots. The cool breeze whipping over the large field by the forts over the ocean is perfect for cooling off after a day of exploring Old San Juan.